Sunday, July 31, 2016


History is waiting for you to finish your race.

"All these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.  Therefore ... run."  (Hebrews 11:40-12:1)

When the Old Testament believers died, their spirits were made perfect, but they didn't receive the full blessing of God's promise - not yet.  They didn't get new bodies in a perfect new age - not yet.  They didn't obtain that promise - not yet.

Why not?

The answer to that question is extremely important.

God's purpose seems to be that all His people be gathered in before any of them enjoys the fullness of His promise.  There's coming a day when we'll all come into our eternal inheritance together.

History is waiting.  Think on that for a moment.

Your life counts to those who have gone before you.  Your finishing the race is what history is waiting for.  They're crowding the marathon route to cheer you on because they won't be perfected until the final runner crosses the finish line.  They won't be perfected without you.

So run the race with perseverance.  Run it with heart and passion.  Run it with faithfulness.  Run for all you're worth.  Because it isn't just about you.  It's way bigger than that.

And be blessed.

Friday, July 29, 2016


The call on your life as a believer in Christ is to run like you're in a race with a finish line and everything depends on you hitting the tape.

To get there, Hebrews says: 'Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.'

Not just your big ol' giant creepy sins, but 'every encumbrance.'  Every weight.  Every obstacle.  Everything that weighs you down.

Because there are all kinds of things you can carry into the race that won't help you run it fast.  They'll just slow you down.

The race of faith isn't run well by asking wrong questions.

"What wrong with this or that or the other thing?"  

Wrong questions.  Weights.  Obstacles.

It's run well by asking, 'Is this the path to greater faith or greater love or greater purity or greater courage or greater humility or greater self-control?'

Not, 'Is this a sin?'  But, 'Does it help me run better?  Is it getting in my way?  Is it dragging me down?  Is it holding me back?'

Don't ask about your music -- your movies -- your parties -- your habits -- 'What's so wrong with them?'

Ask, 'Does it help me run faster for Jesus?'

And hit the tape full speed.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


The 2016 Summer Olympics are coming soon.  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Pretty exciting.

Personally, some of the coolest Olympic memories I recall are ...

Mark Spitz winning those 7 gold medals in swimming and diving in Munich, 1972.  Nobody had ever won that many golds and no one eclipsed Spitz until Michael Phelps won 8 golds in Beijing, 2008.

The first perfect 10 score in gymnastics in Olympic history in Montreal, 1976 by Nadia Comaneci from Romania (pictured).

The amazing American basketball Dream Team who won it all in Barcelona, 1992.

'Miracle on Ice' with the U.S. men's hockey team winning the gold at Lake Placid, New York, 1980.

Usain Bolt from Jamaica - considered the fastest man on earth - hitting the tape in Beijing, 2008.

Those were some incredible moments in Olympic history.  I'm definitely watching this year.

There have also been times during the Olympics when I've stayed up late at night yelling at the TV for a bunch of sports I'd never watch under normal circumstances.

Women's Water Polo.  Really?  Who needs that?

Or that game where they push that little disc and scrub hard as it goes down the lane.  What's it called again?

Curling (pictured.)

Who said that was a sport?  They made that up.

One of the sports I do enjoy watching is track and field.  The marathoners.  I couldn't do what they do.  Some people mistakenly think I'm a runner because I have legs out to next Wednesday.  But I'm not.  Running twenty-six miles.  I see nothing appealing in that whatsoever.  I don't know why you'd do that when you have access to a perfectly good car.

But the Bible says in Hebrews that the Christian life is like a race - a marathon.  It's no sprint, that's for sure.

That word for 'race' is 'agon' in the Greek.  It's where we get our word 'agony' -- so that's nice.  It was also the word they used back then to refer to the pentathlon, which was five sports in a competition.

That ancient pentathlon ended with a Greco-Roman boxing match.  After they'd completed the first four events, they'd square off in the ring.  Fighters wore leather gloves that would protect their hands but disfigure the other person's face.  So it was 'agon' -- agonizing.

I really hate to break it to you, but there are moments in the Christian life that can be 'agon' - agonizing.  It isn't always a cake walk.  The spiritual marathon you're in right now can be a tough race.

But God's call on every single one of us who've made a commitment to Christ is to be moving forward with new wisdom -- new holiness -- new courage -- new discipline -- new joy -- givers, not getters -- from being people who are taught all the time to becoming people who teach others.

That's your race.  No coasting.

Suit up.

And be blessed.

Friday, July 22, 2016


There was a study done not long ago with Americans under 30 years of age.  They were asked what their impressions of Evangelicals were.

The percentage who had a positive impression was --- hold your breath --- 3%.

Right.  Said another way, 97% had a decidedly unfavorable impression of Evangelicals.  Ninety-seven percent.

That same study was done 20 years ago on people under 30.  At that time, 85% had a positive impression of us.

Right.  Said another way, only 15% had an unfavorable impression.

That took place in just one generation.


Let's think about this.  We drag the name of Jesus through the mud for what?  Some legislation?  Christians known for being mean and nasty?  Nothing like Jesus?

The good news is -- if we can wreck the name of Jesus in one generation, maybe we can right it again in one generation.

If we can wreck the name of Jesus in one generation, maybe we can right it again in one generation.

What if 20 years from now, without backing down on what we believe -- without compromising our Christ-honoring values -- what if we were known for ...

... being the biggest supporters of the foster care system in our counties?

.... fully embracing adoption?  Followers of Jesus are crazy.  They take children into their homes and don't let them go.

... being the most generous people around?

... acting in grace-filled ways?

... humility?

... compassion?

... being slow to anger?

... loving the gay community?

That would be something.


That can happen with the Spirit of God at work through us.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


God requires that you reflect Him.  What you do is what He would do.

God is compassionate, so you be.
God is gracious, so you be.
God is slow to anger, so you be.
God is patient, so you be.
And on down the list.

This is the reason you exist - this is the reason you were created - to display the character of God - to show the world what God is like - to wear His name wherever you go.

You don't just go to work to make another buck - you wear His name.
You aren't just a junior in college - you wear His name.
You don't just design software for a living - you wear His name.

God requires that you reflect Him.

Everywhere you go every day of your life, people of God, you're called to reflect the character of God.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


You stink.

Did you know that?

You really do.

If you are a follower of Christ, you have a smell - an aroma - a scent - a fragrance - an odor - a whiff -- somebody stop me!

'You are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To one a fragrance from death to death and to the other a fragrance from life to life.'  (2 Corinthians 2:15)

Your life is going to create a fork in the road.  You're going to create either a disdain for Christ or a delight for Him.  There will be people who will want what you have and there will be people who will reject what you have.

Just know that.  Safety and popularity cannot become our goal.

Don't conceal your beliefs;  reveal them.  Wear your Christianity -- not arrogantly, but gratefully.  Be glad to tell folks that it's because of Jesus that you're glad.

Because we want people to smell God on us.  That's the goal.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


There are two groups of people in this country.  There are people who are grateful to God for what He's done.  These feel a sense of accountability to God.

Then there are those who are ungrateful and have no sense of obligation or accountability to God or anyone.  They're accountable to themselves.

They don't trust in God.  They trust in them.

But if we remove God from our picture, what then becomes the foundation for how we're going to move forward?  Because there has to be something that forms a bedrock.  Our Declaration of Independence says it's God, but we seem to be expelling Him from our process.  So what then is the new foundation, because there has to be one.

I believe the new foundation . . . is us.  We've become independent of God, as if that's human progress.

Prosperity and humility don't co-habitate very well and as America has gotten richer and richer, she has lost her meekness.  And when you lose your humility and seek your own way, then you lose your dependence on Almighty God.

You're going to say: 'I pulled this off on my own.'

When we think we've done it in the strength of our own hand, then we're no longer accountable to anyone . . . but us.

"Each of us will give an account of himself to God."  (Romans 14:12)

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Unrest is not new to society - ours or others.  If we were to examine history, we would see it chock-full of disturbance and disorder - at times chaotic, even anarchic.

Still, I admit there seems to have been a measurable uptick in racial, economic, relational, political, religious and turbulence in the past few years both at home and abroad.  I will also admit it is personally disturbing.

Matthew told us in the Bible that as the end drew nearer there would be wars and rumors of wars.  This does not just mean wars with bombs and tanks - we are in a home turf war now.  He said nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  That did not just mean Islamic states would rise against Democratic Republics or vice versa, but that nations would fight against themselves.  Matthew also said in those same verses that when these things happen, we shouldn't be alarmed because it is necessary for these to take place.  'It is the beginning of the birth pangs.'

That's important for a couple of reasons.

The frequency of unrest will rise as Jesus' return draws closer.  The intensity of them will also increase because that's how it goes with labor before a birth.  But although the labor may be painful, it's also full of hope.

So there is a sense that some of the unrest we're experiencing and will likely continue to experience in both increasing frequency and intensity should have a reverse effect on us from what I usually see among those who claim faith in Christ.

Jesus is warning us that He's coming.

There is no way to be joyful about any of it - but according to our faith and our hope, rather than panicking and becoming fearful, we should in every civil war and world earthquake and devastating famine, hear the voice of God saying, 'I'm coming.  I'm a God of justice and I will not condone sin.'  

But in those same moments of unrest, we should also hear Him saying, 'I'm a God of mercy and a God of hope.  I'm bringing My Kingdom and I don't want you to miss it.  I'm forewarning you.  That's how much I love you.'

Warnings - so people will turn to God and won't be caught off guard when Jesus returns.  He's warning us that He's coming.

In the middle of all that, your life in Christ is unshakable.  What can be shaken will one day be swept away and only what is unshakable will remain.  You're part of the unshakable Kingdom, follower of Christ.

So we can't possibly rejoice at the unrest that swirls all around us.  It's right to be sad.  But we can be at peace in the hope we have deep down inside.  We can know that Jesus is returning.  And we can pray, pray, pray, pray, pray.

Worship what cannot be shaken, my friends.

And be blessed.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Everybody has been writing and posting about what has happened of late in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis and Dallas and other places.  There aren't enough words that weigh heavily enough to describe the sorrow and regret it's worthy of.

We are a nation that is increasingly asking as well as showing in its actions, beliefs and attitudes:  'Who is the Lord?'

In the Old Testament, Moses is ready to lead the Israelites from the wilderness into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering.  After an entire generation of ungratefuls have died in the desert, it's finally time to go in.  But before they do, Moses has something to say.

'Be people who obey the Law - and don't forget to keep your reverence for God.  And when you get in there, don't forget to be grateful.'

Why would Moses possibly have to remind the people to be grateful?  Because it's human nature to forget.  And one day you may wake up and ask:  'Who is the Lord?'

When a nation loses its sense of Divine accountability, the natural outflow is they no longer feel compelled to treat others with compassion and care because, after all, 'I earned what I have - you have no right to it.'

If any nation on planet earth should understand this, it should be us.  To think for one moment - when we see all we've been given - that it was through our own ingenious innovation - when we start to think and believe it was because we were so clever - that's when we start to say: 'Who is the Lord?'

And God answers:  'If you ignore Me and act like you don't know Me, there will be consequences for your choices.'

But lest you think where we are as a nation is beyond correction and repentance - we're too far gone - things are too bad -- let me remind you that we've factored God back in before.

Note what happened in this country in 1944 just before we went into France to turn back German forces.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the radio to link the nation through prayer:

'My fellow Americans -- I ask you to join me in prayer:  "Almighty God ... our sons have set upon a mighty endeavor.  Lead them straight and true;   give them strength and steadfastness.  They will need Your blessings, for the enemy is strong.  Some will never return.  Embrace these, Father and receive them into Your Kingdom.  For us at home, help us rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in this hour of sacrifice.  Many have urged that I call the nation to a day of special prayer.  But because the road is long, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer.  As we rise to each new day, and again when the day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Your help.  And Lord, give us faith in You.  Faith in our sons.  Faith in each other.  Lead us to the saving of our country and a peace that will let all men live in freedom.  Your will be done, Almighty God.  Amen.'

The New York Times printed The Lord's Prayer in a full page ad in its paper that day.
Lord & Taylor didn't open that day in New York City.  They sent all 3,000 employees home - to pray.
The entire city of Columbus, Ohio came to a complete stop for 5 minutes during the day.  Cars stopped in the middle of the street and people inside prayed.

Because in that moment we acknowledged that even with our great might and power, we still needed the help and favor and blessing of God.  In that moment we were not a nation who was saying: 'Who is the Lord?'

If we have anyone to thank, it's God.  If we should fear anything at all, it should be that we would become a nation who begins to say, 'Who is the Lord?'

We can still change this country.  We can still make a difference as the people of God.  We can still be families of faith.  We can still stand up for what is right and be folks who understand they have an accountability to God.

We can pray for our leaders.  We can be people who seek God.  We can repent.  And in doing so, we would send a message that there really are still people in this nation with a conscience that is Godly -- that there really are still people who won't forget who God is and how dependent on Him they are.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 4, 2016


Our forefathers and we have been shaped as a nation by Godly standards and principles and we are grateful to God for that.

I'm not suggesting all the founding fathers were awesome Christians.  They probably weren't.

I'm not arguing that all the founding fathers had spot-on theology.  History seems pretty clear they didn't.

I'm not arguing they all took the Bible seriously.  I don't believe they did.

That debate is for wiser minds than mine.  But I am arguing that there was a definite sense of personal accountability to a holy God that spilled over to their writings and their beliefs and ultimately to the nation's roots.  That would seem to logically be beyond dialogue.

Here's what we all learned in grade school.  It's from the Declaration of Independence:  'We hold these truths to be self-evident (that actually means we don't have to hold a big debate on this) that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ... '  The Declaration of Independence invokes the presence of God.  And down through the early years of our nation's history there was never an argument about whether or not we were accountable to the standards of God.  Everyone just got that.

In the Mayflower Compact of 1620, the first governing document of the original colonists at Plymouth:  'We whose names are underwritten, having undertaken, for the glorie of God and advancemente of the Christian faith ... a voyage to plant the first colony.'  Why did they come here?  For the advancement of Christianity.  Does that need a big debate based on what they wrote?

In one of the most memorable and powerful speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln in 1863:  'We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom.'  Lincoln viewed this nation as under the authority and accountability of God.  The nation agreed with him when he wrote that 150 years ago.  We were having a Civil War at that time - one half of Americans fighting the other half for states' rights but the sides weren't fighting about whether we were a nation under God.  Both sides believed that.

Oh, but that's all a product of the uninformed society of the 1800s.

OK.  Let's move to 1954.  Dwight Eisenhower is President of the United States.  Although the Pledge of Allegiance was written back in 1892, the two word phrase 'under God' was added in 1954 by Eisenhower.  Every time you recite it you're declaring that this nation views God as the leader of this country.

We have a national motto.  Did you know that?  It was instituted in 1956.  Do you know what it is?  Most people don't.

It isn't the bald eagle.
Or ... God bless the Stars & Stripes.
It isn't Oh Say Can You See ... or ... Semper Fi.

The National Motto of the United States is ... IN GOD WE TRUST.   It's been on our coins since the 1860s but in 1956 Congress decided it would be our official National Motto.  Congress decided that.

Think about that.  WE TRUST GOD is our National Motto.

I'm not sure what would happen in 2016 if, when school kicks back in this fall, every principal of every American school were to walk in and get on the school sound system and announce:  'OK kids, I just want to remind us all today that our National Motto is 'WE TRUST GOD.'  So don't forget that, kids.  TRUST GOD TODAY.'

My, my.  There would be lawsuits flying left and right.  People would be pulling their kids out of schools like crazy.

But wait.  It's the National Motto of the United States of America.  Congress.  1956.  The President.

And for what we have left of that national foundation, we are thankful.  Would you go to lengths to preserve it in your family, in your sphere of influence, in your personal walk with Christ?

And be blessed.